You know what it looks like and feels like when you are not having a productive day. But is that most days or just a few? How would you be able to tell? Some of the symptoms of  poor time management seem obvious. Do you check your email hourly? That may be your problem. Social media and email consistently top the lists of things that drag you from productivity. (1) Obviously, wandering around the office gossiping is going to waste time. But there are some things whose virtue often absolves them from their true role in stealing those precious productive minutes from your day? What are those troublemakers? A few of them are listed below.


Wait, but isn’t high quality imperative to a business? Sure, but not at the expense of productivity. The need for every “i” to be dotted can have it’s dark side. You need to have a good handle on the standards within which you work. If you are presenting

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a proposal to picky clients, by all means put some polish on your image boards. When you are putting together you kid’s Halloween costume for the neighborhood holiday stampede, however, you can let the velcro get undone, or the pony tails be a bit lopsided. Stress about the details that are imperative. If your editor will fire you over your next misused they’re, then spend the time double checking, but the grocery list doesn’t need to be color coded according to the store aisle. Learn to let go. (2) 

Getting diverted to new ideas

There is a place for creativity, but it is not every day, or all the time. You should totally take note of all of those profound ideas, and fall down those rabbit holes at some prescribed time, but not when you are cooking the dinner that needs to be eaten before practice, or writing that proposal that is due in a few hours. New ideas can be confusing when we first encounter them. Hey, if you act on this great idea it will save you so much time. But will it. No one knows at first lightbulb burst. You will need time to weed through the truth about it. Will the idea work, can it be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time and with a reasonable budget? Set aside time in your schedule to analyze the answers to those questions and lay out what it will take to truly birth this idea. Just make sure it is done when it is not taking away from more urgent tasks. (3) 

Saying yes

Sure, you want to be the one that is a go getter and participates in life and business. That can be great, important, even, but not every answer should be “Yes”. No matter how demoralizing the guilt trip, some activities just should not weasel their way into your day. Attend the PTO meeting, but don’t participate in EVERY fundraiser. Take on the extra work your boss wants done, but don’t give up your weekend if you truly need the time to recharge. You will be far more efficient if you don’t wear yourself into the ground. The work you do will be better quality if you can clearly focus on it as well, rather than squint through the fog of exhaustion. (4) 


This seems truly counterintuitive. Surely more is more, unless it really isn’t. It turns out studies tell us that when we think we are doing multiple things at once we are actually switching our attention fully and quickly among all of our tasks. (5) This means that we aren’t really concentrating very well on any of the individual tasks we are doing at the time. All of this switching can mean we don’t learn in this chaos, meaning we are missing out on opportunities to grow. Our inattentiveness can lead to accidents, which is one reason there is such a push to end texting and driving. It also increases errors, and the need to make more adjustments and fixing, which just eats up all the time you thought you saved by multitasking.

The ways we can distract ourselves are without number. The first key to conquering them is to know what they are. Which time wasters do you struggle with. If you need a clue check out the quiz below.


  1. Rampton, John. “8 Biggest Time Wasters That Kill Your Productivity.” Inc., 14 Nov. 2016, Accessed 7 Nov. 2018.
  2. Marr, Bernard. “Want to have more time? Stop These 13 Biggest Time Wasters.” Linked In, 21 May 2017, Accessed 7 May 2018. 
  3. DeMers, Jayson. “The 7 Biggest Time-Wasters in a New Entrepreneur’s Day.” Entrepreneur, 22 June 2017, entrepreneur. Accessed 7 Nov. 2018. 
  4. “10 Time Wasters and How to Avoid Them.” The Simply Organized Home, Accessed 7 Nov. 2018. 
  5. Kubu, Cynthia, and Andre Machado. “The Science is Clear: Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work.” Cleveland Clinic, 1 June 2017, Accessed 7 Nov. 2018.
    Calvin College openURL resolver

    Do you waste time?

    Are you a time waster or a time manager?

    Do you procrastinate?

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    How often do you check social media in a day?

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    Do you make a daily schedule or list?

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    Do you spend too much time in boring meetings?

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    Does everything need to be perfect?

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    Is your space chaotic or messy?

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    Do you get distracted by new ideas easily?

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    Do you concentrate on one task at a time?

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    Do you feel obligated to say "Yes" to most requests?

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